Monday, June 13, 2005

THE STORY WEAVER AND THE GREAT BLANKET TENT

This is a true story, and I dedicate it to my Mother, who has always encouraged my story-telling.

Once upon a time, long ago, lived some children who moved from town to town quicker than they were able to make friends.  With their father traveling away from the family so often, the children spent much of their time indoors.  Money was tight but they barely noticed for Mother had given them each the gift of imagination.

One child in particular used her gift to weave stories.  These stories were woven rather than told because they were constructed as the story went along and listeners were encouraged to give suggestions to help with the direction of the fantasy.  In the beginning these stories were created on a big, shared bed, crowded with fluffy blankets and feather pillows.  Before long the bed became too confining for such imagination.  Enter Mother and her Blanket Tent.

The Blanket Tent was a simple structure that varied from time to time.  Sometimes it was a chinelle bedspread with long twirled fringe.  Other times it was a thin sheet in which the moon could be seen through if it was full enough.  But it was always a place of intrigue, of comforting closeness and bursting with imagination.

The Story Weaver was more or less the middle child.  She wasn't the smartest by any means, but she had a way with words that even drew the Parents to the door of the bedroom to listen to the progressing tales that were being told from beneath the blankets and sheets draped over beds, chairs, sides held up by dresser drawers and anchored by story books that had lost their appeal.  As the years passed, the blanket tents became more elaborate, and were no longer confined to the bedroom.  Occasionally Mother would turn a blind eye as multiple bedspreads were draped over the dining table.

The tales never used real names, the characters were fictional, and yet they were molded by the occupants of the Blanket Tent.  The stories were never the same either, once there was a trip into town in a childsized car, which was unheard of in those times.  Another time focused on chocolate chip cookies, which just happened to be the favorite food of the Story Weaver.  Special detail was added when the cookies were described as being slightly burnt.  The Story Weaver preferred her cookies that way.  The first and last batch of cookies made by the Mother were almost always burned and the Story Weaver had discovered that because the other children found them distasteful, she would almost always get the first and last batches to herself.  Did I say she wasn't the smartest?  Perhap not, but she was smart enough.  Unbeknown to her at the time, her Mother was not a careless baker, but often deliberately left a batch in slightly longer than required to achieve the desired color for the Story Weaver.

The stories almost always included a very detailed description of a meal.  The food would depend on the family's location at the time.  While in Connecticutt the favorite fantasy meal included warm dinner rolls (Mother made them from scratch) washed down with a bottle of Hostess Cream Soda.  In Scotland the meal was almost always a crusty afternoon roll such as the ones bought from the bakery a few doors down, slathered with butter and topped with a slab of thick cheese, washed down with Ginger Beer (Ginger Ale).  The audience would listen to the Story Weaver with big eyes as the meal was described, giggling when someone's stomach rumbled uncontrollably.

And outside the walls illuminated by a single flashlight, the Mother stood silently, with a smile on her small dark face.  She knew one day that there would be no more stories shared beneath the Great Blanket Tent, that the children would no longer whisper and giggle at shadows cast against its sides.  But she hoped that the Story Weaver would never forget her gift and would some day weave stories for her own children.

Years later and thousands of miles away from Mother, giggles fill a darkened house.  In the diningroom a warm gentle glow illuminated through the blankets draped over a large wooden table.  From within the walls of the blankets, five pair of eyes peered eagerly at the Story Weaver who held a single flashlight.  The Story Weaver spoke in a soft voice but it was full of excitement as she described the cool, salty air by the ocean's edge.  The children never took their eyes from her face as they nibbledon simple, crusty rolls slathered with butter and stuffed with slabs of cheddar cheese, washed down with small bottles of Coca Cola.  Occasionally a child would make a suggestion which was immediately woven into the story.  And the Story Weaver smiled as she looked back at the young faces before her, flashing back to an earlier time when it was her brother and sisters faces that stared back at her with anticipation.  She wondered as she saw the magic of imagination play across her childrens faces if any of them would carry on the legacy of Story Weaving.

Her question was answered when late one evening when the house was unnaturally quiet.  She walked through the rooms, looking for the children and found them huddled under a lopsided Blanket Tent, the sides illuminated by the soft glow of a single flashlight, the voices of her children within taking turns weaving a story.  She stood there for a long while, just smiling.  Before the story was finished the Mother moved away from the doorway so as not to break the spell.

The children are older now, and there are no more Blanket Tents.  But the Mother is confident that her children will rekindle the magic with their own children and once again the stories will be woven in the Great Blanket Tent.

18 comments:

sdoscher458 said...

Dorn...this was wonderful...excellent story weaving. I loved it....please tell more stories too....Sandi

rashgirl13 said...

This was a beautiful and touching.  I'm glad you haven't lost your gift, instead you've just made it greater because you share it with so many here.  Thanks for giving us your gift so often : )

amy122389 said...

Ah Crimeny.....I'm crying.  (in a good way...)  That was sweet....

~Amy

plittle said...

Yay for blanket tents. Yay for flashlights. Yay for mother's chocolate chip cookies. Yay for mothers. Yay for children. Yay for warm crusty rolls slathered with butter and stuffed with cheese. Yay for story weavers. Yay.
-Paul

brandyp0509 said...

I have goosebumps from this.  You are amazing! It reminded me of sort of the very same thing I used to do with my brothers well, minus the rug weaving, not that talented sista, lol, and they were much older than me but "tolerated" these story times because they knew what it meant to me to "entertain", lol.  I love this story and hope to hear more just like it!  You're the best!
Brandy

astaryth said...

<sniffle> What a wonderful story... ::wipes tear from eye:: .. I hope OUR story weaver continues to pass stories on to us <g>  Oh, and I agree with everything Paul said!
http://journals.aol.com/astaryth/AdventuresofanEclecticMind

hannahthemaid said...

Dornbrau..
You are a great story teller..and i am so thankful for you being in here for all of us..And may i say..more please..
jo..hannahthemaid....

swmpgrly said...

brings back memorys of when my sisters and I made those same tents...we had a blast.

tc01hm said...

The greatest of traditions! Thank you!

mistaculangel said...

Thank you for being that story weaver that you are..more please
Mistaculangel..jo....

schnozbeary said...

And these are the traditions that WE carry forward. They create lineage, consistency and the necessary ingredient of magic.... Thanks Dorn!! Penny

purplectigger said...

Oh, how wonderful for you to give your children this. Thanks for sharing that with us. Great entry.
Hugs, R.C.

geminiwilder said...

fabulous!    

ambassadorsinte said...

From "Story Weaver's" Mom:
Too choked up for a response right now. later, maybe.
Dad responds with lots of slightly burnt chocolate chip cookies and the simple but very meaningful "YAY!"

hestiahomeschool said...

I had tears running down my cheeks....

sunnyside46 said...

made me cry...thank you for sharing
all we are is made up from our stories
Marti

princesssaurora said...

So amazing...you made me cry!!!!  Beautiful... i loved blanket tents.

Be well,

Dawn

jmorancoyle said...

    Very, very nice. Thank you for sharing that again.
Jude
http://journals.aol.com/JMoranCoyle/MyWay